In honour of Canada Day on the first of July, we’re paying tribute to our national roots by highlighting a number of authors who are making waves in Canadian literature. These writers come from across the country and from all walks of life, have different beliefs and backgrounds, and offer us unique perspectives of the world. Their work demonstrates the vast talent and diverse experiences taking place between our coasts. Here are ten noteworthy authors the watch.
Christa Couture is an award-winning Cree and Scandinavian performing and recording artist, a writer and storyteller. Couture was raised in the Canadian prairies and lost her left leg to bone cancer when she was 13 years old. Throughout her career she has become known as an expert in loss, sharing her personal journey through her words and music. The weekday afternoon host on Toronto’s 106.5 ELMNT FM is releasing her debut non-fiction book and memoir, How to Lose Everything, this September.
Michelle Good is poet, author and lawyer who is a descendent of the Battle River Cree and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Her award-winning poetry has appeared in several publications, including Best of the Best Canadian Poetry. She obtained her law degree at the age of 43, after three decades working with Indigenous communities and organizations. While practising law, she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. This year, Good has unveiled her first novel, Five Little Indians, which won the HarperCollins/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction. She is currently working on her second novel.
James Gregor is currently working on his second work of fiction after the success of his debut novel, Going Dutch. The book, based on his personal online dating experience and exploration of sexuality, was a finalist for the 2020 Amazon Canada First Novel Award and the Atlantic Book Awards’ Margaret and John Savage First Book Award. Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Gregor holds an MFA in Fiction from Columbia, has been a writer in residence at the Villa Lena Foundation in Tuscany, and a bookseller at Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris.
Catherine Hernandez is a theatre practitioner, award-wining author and the artistic director of B Current Performing Arts. Her highly acclaimed debut novel, Scarborough (2017), is set to be adapted into a screenplay, received the Jim Wong-Chu Award for the unpublished manuscript and was longlisted for Canada Reads. Hernandez describes herself as brown queer femme and radical mother. In 2019, she released her second children’s book, I Promise, and in 2020, her highly anticipated novel, Crosshairs.
Hana Shafi (Frizz Kid) is an accomplished writer and illustrator who combines poetry with art. The self-proclaimed “Indo-Persian feminist” is a National Magazine Award-nominated journalist and a recipient of the Women Who Inspire Award from the Canadian Council for Muslim Women. Her debut book of poetry and illustrations, It Begins with the Body, was one of CBC’s Best Books of Poetry in 2018. In 2020, Shafi is back with the forthcoming book Broke and Kind of Dirty: Affirmations for the Real World, available in September. If you can’t wait, Shafi has shared over 175 affirmations on her Instagram page (@frizzkidart).
John Elizabeth Stintzi
John Elizabeth Stintzi is a non-binary writer and award-winning poet who grew up on a cattle farm in northwestern Ontario. They teach critical and creative writing at the Kansas City Art Institute and have written two poetry chapbooks. In 2019, Stinzi was awarded the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers from the Writers’ Trust of Canada for poem, Selections, in Junebat – their full-length poetry book debut. They are also a recipient of the The Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize. 2020 has been a big year for Stintzi, with the release of Junebat and their debut novel, Vanishing Monuments.
Souvankham Thammavongsa is the author of four poetry books, and the short story collection How to Pronounce Knife. Her stories have won an O. Henry Award and appeared in Harper's Magazine, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Granta, and other places. She was born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, and grew up in Toronto. The New York Times said of her, "A talented new voice emerges."
Dr. Cheryl Thompson is a public speaker, freelance writer and assistant professor at Ryerson University in the school of Creative Industries, who grew up in Scarborough, Ontario. Her research spans five fields, including: visual culture, media, adverting and consumer culture and Black Canadian studies. Thompson’s first book, Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture, was published in 2019. It’s one of the first transnational feminist studies of Canada’s Black beauty culture. Her second book, Uncle: Race, Nostalgia, and the Politics of Loyalty, will be available in August.
Canadian First Nations two-spirit novelist, poet and editor Joshua Whitehead is an Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation in Manitoba. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate, a lecturer and Killam scholar at the University of Calgary, where he studies Indigenous literatures and cultures with a focus on gender and sexuality. His debut novel, Johnny Appleseed (2018), won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction and the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction, and was longslisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He is currently working on a third manuscript titled Making Love with the Land, to be published with Knopf Canada.
Evan Winter is an epic fantasy author and cinematographer who self-published his debut African-inspired novel, The Rage of Dragons, in 2017. After being re-released this year by Orbit Books, the novel became a #1 Amazon Bestseller and made the Canada Reads longlist. It is the first book in a four-book deal series, called The Burning. Book two, The Fires of Vengeance, is expected in November this year. Winter was born in England and grew up in Africa near the historical territory of his Xhosa ancestors. When his son was born, he realised that it was rare to see Africa represented in his genre, so he started writing. He now calls Canada home.